Articles | Volume 14, issue 1
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 14, 49–57, 2007
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-14-49-2007

Special issue: Nonlinear waves and turbulence in space

Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 14, 49–57, 2007
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-14-49-2007

  30 Jan 2007

30 Jan 2007

Obliquely propagating large amplitude solitary waves in charge neutral plasmas

F. Verheest1,2 F. Verheest
  • 1Sterrenkundig Observatorium, Universiteit Gent, Krijgslaan 281, 9000 Gent, Belgium
  • 2School of Physics, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X54001, Durban 4000, South Africa

Abstract. This paper deals in a consistent way with the implications, for the existence of large amplitude stationary structures in general plasmas, of assuming strict charge neutrality between electrons and ions. With the limit of pair plasmas in mind, electron inertia is retained. Combining in a fluid dynamic treatment the conservation of mass, momentum and energy with strict charge neutrality has indicated that nonlinear solitary waves (as e.g. oscillitons) cannot exist in electron-ion plasmas, at no angle of propagation with respect to the static magnetic field. Specifically for oblique propagation, the proof has turned out to be more involved than for parallel or perpendicular modes. The only exception is pair plasmas that are able to support large charge neutral solitons, owing to the high degree of symmetry naturally inherent in such plasmas. The nonexistence, in particular, of oscillitons is attributed to the breakdown of the plasma approximation in dealing with Poisson's law, rather than to relativistic effects. It is hoped that future space observations will allow to discriminate between oscillitons and large wave packets, by focusing on the time variability (or not) of the phase, since the amplitude or envelope graphs look very similar.